3 Ways To Help Students Conquer Their "Scary" Poses

As yoga teachers, it’s our job to make these postures as docile as possible. Here, 3 simple tips to help your students overcome their fears.
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As yoga teachers, it’s our job to make these postures as docile as possible. Here, 3 simple tips to help your students overcome their fears.
Kathryn Budig Teach

"Life is full of serious moments. Creating a playful space on the yoga mat allows students to drop their insecurities and encourages them to take chances and have fun!"

Have you ever had students slink out for a bathroom break just as you call out an inversion or an arm balance? Or maybe they gracefully ball themselves into a Child’s Pose until the storm has passed. Perhaps you're also guilty with a dreaded pose you just can't bring yourself to practice.

All of the above behaviors are signs of a completely normal yogi.

We all have our fear poses and desire to avoid the unknown or the seemingly dangerous. As yoga teachers, it’s our job to make these postures as docile as possible. If you tell your students that a pose is hard and scary, it immediately becomes just that. If you break down the pose into accessible bits, then the student may accidentally find themselves in a pose they never thought possible!

Also seeHow to Teach Scary Poses

3 Simple Teaching Tips to Help Your Students Fly

1. Use the stage door.

Like I said before, being serious and acting like a pose is the hardest thing in the world will only terrify your students. Treat every pose with levity and make it accessible to everyone in the room. You need to believe in your students in order for them to believe in themselves. If you’re sneaky enough, your students won’t even realize they’re working on something difficult.

See also5 Steps for Getting into Dragonfly Pose

2. Use humor.

My students always excel faster when they’re laughing. This can mean laughing after a belly flop, laughing during the journey, and squealing with delight from having an epiphany in a new pose. Life is full of serious moments. Creating a playful space on the yoga mat allows students to drop their insecurities about how well they’re doing and encourages them to take chances and have fun!

Also seeDo You Have a Royal Fear of Inversions?

3. Find the simple in the difficult.

Yes, we can’t deny that challenging poses are difficult, but that doesn’t mean they’re impossible or that a student has to wait until they’re extra advanced before attempting. As a teacher, find the basic actions within an advanced pose that you can teach throughout the class. For example, Bakasana requires adduction in the arms and legs in order to balance and hold. Fire up your students adductors throughout the flow sequence leading up to the peak pose so that by the time they get there it’s second nature.

See also 3-Step Core Prep for Crow Pose (Bakasana)